Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Labor of Love

As usual when I sit down to write, it's getting late and the kitchen is full of dirty dishes. But I've been wanting to write for weeks, and I'm about to have much bigger news to write about, so I'd better tell you all the stuff you might be wondering about now before the old news gets superseded...

We moved into our new house on Labor Day weekend and have been busy settling in ever since. Here's how the boxes looked going in:

And here's how things looked in the middle:
Stuff everywhere.... Love that fireplace!

And now it looks... great! I just haven't had time to take pictures yet. But I promise I will.

Where's the story, you ask? Of course there's a story! It all came together in my head this past Sunday, when I was painting Allyson's room with my sisters Emily and Amy. We worked hard for several hours, having fun talking and laughing at ourselves when we got paint on our hands, feet, and butts and in our hair, too. Amy and I used the rollers while Emily meticulously cut in with the brush. Meanwhile, Dad and Emily's husband Paul hung a big iron mirror, and then Paul and Mom broke down all the boxes I'd been collecting in the garage.

By the time we finished dinner (which included lentil sloppy joes, yum!), it was after 9. When I thanked everyone profusely for the tenth time, Emily replied, "I was happy to do it. It was a labor of love."

A labor of love. I grinned as I realized that phrase truly describes my move, from start to finish. So many people have demonstrated their love through their hard work:

  • It started with Gentle, who single-handedly packed just about everything I own over the course of several visits. She was happy to do it! 
  • As soon as the house was officially mine, Gentle helped me carry the first big load of boxes and helped me get started unpacking the kitchen. Oh, that kitchen! For the first time in my adult life, I have a place for absolutely everything. It's glorious. But I digress.
  • Two days after closing, my friends Jana and Tammy and Tammy's 16-year-old son Jimmy helped me move all the rest of the boxes and our clothes in the sweltering heat. It was evening, but it was still near 100 degrees (38 Celsius). These are my newest friends, yet they were happy to come at the end of a long, hot day.
  • On the moving day, Mom and Dad, my brother Rick, and my brother-in-law Paul helped with the big stuff. I had hired moving help, but there was plenty to do.

    On a side note, I have to tell a couple stories from moving day. The youngest helper seemed very inexperienced, and it was stressful to hear the other two snapping at him, "No, don't do that! No, do it this way." When we arrived at the new house, the glass storm door wouldn't stay open, so the new guy propped it open with one of my decorative wooden crosses! One of his coworkers immediately corrected him, but Paul quipped, "Hey, that's the power of the cross."

    Despite my concerns, nothing broke in the move except a screw for my bed frame. You can imagine my family's amusement when I ran next door to the neighbor man "for a screw." Speaking of the neighbors, they are so wonderful. This neighborhood is amazing. People just congregate in each other's driveways and chat. And they are very happy to help with anything I need and to let me borrow stuff. And Allyson plays with the neighborhood kids for hours at a time, riding her scooter around the cul-de-sac. We couldn't be happier.

    Anyway, back to the list...
  • Mom, Dad, and Amy worked tirelessly with me on Labor Day--doing labor, how fitting--to clean Bill's house top to bottom. It was back-breaking work that ended up giving me a stiff neck, but there were treasures in it. I learned lots of great cleaning tips from Mom, and I also learned that I rather enjoy spring cleaning, even in the summer. I particularly enjoyed vacuuming the blinds. Also, Allyson was a big help, and Grandma was so impressed with her that she gave her $5. The next day, Mom and Dad came back out and worked for several hours more with me. 
  • Mom and Dad have come out a few more times to help me hang pictures and get unpacked. Dad also installed a fluorescent light in my Salvation Army desk and put in a mail rack with hooks for my headsets. I love that desk and hope to tell you more about it soon. 
  • My friends Gentle and Elizabeth fed me and my family several times while my kitchen was packed up. Elizabeth even fed Mom and Dad, too. 
  • My own labor of love is everything to do with organizing. I've developed an (expensive) habit of buying all manner of gadgets. Like this stuff to untangle the rat's nest of cords behind my beloved desk:

  • And last on the list is sweet Jenny.... 
Back in the summer, I was praying about finding affordable furniture for Allyson, and Jenny told me to keep an eye out for garage sale finds. She assured me that she could make just about anything look beautiful. It turns out that I didn't have to buy a thing. Emily passed down a dresser that her girls had inherited from Rick's daughter Mindy. It needed a lot of work, to say the least. Allyson was not impressed.

Next, I found this desk the side of the road one morning while driving Ethan to school. I was so exhausted that I missed my turn, and then another turn. It's as if God led me right to this beauty.

Even when it looked like this, I could see the potential. I drove back for it after dropping Ethan off, and I was amazed that someone would throw away such a solid piece. This was no cheap Walmart desk. I tried to get it into the trunk of my tiny Sentra, but there was no way. I said a quick prayer and then took out the drawers, unscrewed the bottoms of the legs, and wrestled that desk into the backseat, with one end hanging out the open window. When my neighbor helped me unload it later that day, she asked me how on earth I got it in there by myself. "Divine intervention," I answered. 

As you might guess, Allyson liked this item even less than the desk And she was about as unhappy to be inheriting Ethan's old bed, which was perfectly good and only a couple of years old but very plain. I told her not to worry, just to trust God that Ms. Jenny would be able to make it all look beautiful in her ocean-themed room. And oh, did she! Allyson and I were so delighted with the finished furniture that we just about cried. Okay, I probably did cry. During bedtime prayers that night, Allyson put her thoughts into words beautifully: "Lord, I thought that stuff was all just junk. I had no idea it could all be so beautiful." 

Isn't that just like God, to take junk and make it beautiful? 

Would you like to see the furniture? Sorry, I'm not going to show it to you yet, not until we're ready to unveil Allyson's entire room. We still have the orca whale wallpaper border to hang, plus Gentle is making Allyson a cushion for her window seat. For now, I will just show you this inscription that Jenny put on the back of the dresser. We didn't discover it until we pulled the furniture out to paint the walls a week ago:

Hand-painted for Allyson - 2013

Even the winds and the waves obey Him! Matt 8:27

I cried when I saw the ocean-themed verse. I'd needed that reminder that I could rest in God's powerful hand. 

Speaking of free furniture, I have to tell you about my easy chair. As soon as I knew the house was mine, I started thinking about when I might be able to buy a chair for the sitting area in the master bedroom. "I sure would like a chair," I prayed, "but I know I can't buy everything all at once. Still, if you could help me find a good chair for a great price, I'd really appreciate it." 

A couple of days later, I decided to take a break from packing. I left Gentle with a bunch of boxes in my kitchen and drove my niece Hillary to Sonic for some drinks. (Gentle promised she didn't mind. I think it was easier for her to pack with me out of the way.) On the way back, I naturally had to drive Hillary by the new house. As we approached, I drew in my breath when I spotted a beautiful couch and two matching chairs on the side of the road. "Could they be giving those away?" I asked. "But they're so nice. Mind if I stop and look?"

"Of course not," Hillary said. 

I raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure? If Ethan were in the car, he'd be down on the floorboard right now." 

She laughed. "Go ahead." 

I walked all around the three pieces. They were covered in a neutral colored damask fabric that was clean and in very good shape. All I needed was one chair, and I hated to break up the set. But I couldn't pass this up! I debated over whether to take the more elegant wing chair or the comfy easy chair. Comfort won out. [Over the next two days, the other two pieces went. So nothing was wasted. Whew!]

With Hillary's help, I tried to cram that easy chair in my trunk, but of course it didn't even come close to fitting. (This was about two days before I found the desk.) I was afraid to leave the furniture, but it was too hot to sit there and guard it until Gentle could bring her mini van. "Think you could help me carry it to the new house?" I asked Hillary.


So we huffed and puffed in the hundred-plus temperature and carried that chair two doors down, across the street, and up the driveway, all in our flip flops. Whew! Here's Hillary hanging out at the new house before it was mine, in my classy lawn furniture:

It looks even better in my bedroom. And every time I sit in it, I think about how much God loves me.

That's the end of the official story, but I have to share a few first-day-of-school pictures before I turn in.
Our Second Grader!

Teen Beach Movie Backpack

First-Day-of-School Ice Cream with Mommy, Daddy, and Ethan

Ethan won't let me take his picture any more

One last thing. Are you wondering about that bigger news I referred to? All I'm going to say is this: It has to do with a cat. Tomorrow. More soon, I promise. 

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